Most people assume the Labor Day holiday is meant to give workers a three-day weekend to rest and engage in leisurely activities. This assumption is not entirely true. The first time someone asked me to explain the significance of Labor Day, I was at a loss for words because I didn’t know the history or the purpose of the holiday weekend celebration.
After doing some research, I discovered some very interesting facts.
In 1894, U.S. Congress passed the law establishing Labor Day as a national holiday to be celebrated on the first Monday in the month of September. The holiday is meant to honor the workers who helped make this country strong and prosperous. The United States of America is the leading industrialized nation in the world, thanks to the many contributions of workers spanning from the Industrial Revolution (late 19th century) to the present day Information Age. The following are some of the accomplishments that helped shape the landscape of our modern industrial workplace in America.
Labor unions fought for and accomplished:
- Higher wages
- The standard 40- hour work week
- Safer working conditions
- Health benefits
- Workers compensation
- Retirement benefits
- Abolishment of child labor
What to do?
Labor Day has been thought of as the unofficial end of summer, so it is easy to see why we tend to:
- Go to the beach in Galveston or Corpus Christi
- Travel to amusement parks in Arlington or San Antonio
- Attend sporting events in Houston and other cities
- Shop for sales items at local retail outlets
Although our thoughts tend to focus on the end of summer, perhaps we should take a moment on Labor Day to celebrate the men and women who fought for the welfare and common interest of American workers.
Carolyn Kennard is a Regional Facilitator for Workforce Solutions in the Houston – Galveston area. She conducts job search skills seminars throughout the 13 county Gulf Coast region. Before embarking on a career in workforce development, Carolyn achieved success in marketing and training with a major oil company. Carolyn holds a B.A. degree from Virginia State University and an M.A. degree from Prairie View A&M University.